Google Local for Mobile

Last month I mentioned that MapQuest was moving into mobile devices and even paper; I said it was a good idea, because maps are more useful when they’re portable. Online map services are fine and good in front of the computer, but you can’t take them with you; despite a few early hacks, Google has been definitely lacking in that area. I’m always a little peeved that I have to check a map before I go somewhere, and can’t do so on the fly unless I have a paper copy (or some expensive hardware).

But today Google has gone and launched a beta (naturally) of something called Local for Mobile — essentially, Google Local/Maps on a mobile phone. With all the bells and whistles, including zooming and satellite imagery. Not just any mobile phone, mind: it has to support J2EE. Quite a few recent phones are compatible, though (there’s a chart). Even if you have a phone that supports it, though, the data is U.S.-only for now.

A few years ago, iSync compatibility determined my choice of mobile phone: I wanted very badly to be able to sync my data with the phone. I think support for Google Local for Mobile — or, to be fair, another, comparable map service — might well influence my next mobile phone purchase, and I suspect I’m not alone.

See previous entry: Virtual Earth Mobile.